Unproven prevention and treatment methods are being used in the care of U.S. veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars with disorders such as anxiety and depression, a panel of experts say.
They also found that the Department of Defense has no proven programs to prevent domestic abuse and that its programs to combat sexual assault aren't being assessed to determine if they're effective, NBC News reported.
"A fundamental finding of the committee is that, with some notable exceptions, few of DOD's prevention interventions are theory- or evidence-based," wrote Kenneth Warner, a public health expert at the University of Michigan who led the Institute of Medicine panel.
The findings are important because many veterans of recent wars are struggling with mental health and other types of disorders.
"Between 2001 and 2011 the percentage of active-duty service members diagnosed with a psychological condition increased by approximately 62 percent," the panel wrote.
More than 963,000 veterans were diagnosed with at least one mental disorder during service by 2011, and nearly half had more than one such disorder.
The panel said that unproven methods should be discarded and if military officials believe a program is effective, they should conduct studies to prove it.
A defense department spokesperson said officials are reviewing the Institute of Medicine report.